CRPG Collection

How to play Ultima VI in 2023

Ultima VI: The False Prophet, released in 1990, remains a timeless classic that continues to be enjoyed in 2023 (and beyond).

Though the last in a loose trilogy of Ultima games (4, 5 and 6), Ultima VI is easy to recommend as an entry point for players new to the series. Developed for the IBM PC and with the luxury of 256 colour VGA graphics, the visual jump from the earlier Apple II-developed games is drastic. Also, Ultima VI removes the first-person dungeons and two-scale maps and instead presents one coherent, consistent world, making it much more palatable to modern players.

However, as is to be expected of a game that is almost 35 years old, it can be inaccessible in some ways. This article aims to get you settled into the world of Brittania as painlessly as possible.

Screenshot of Ultima 6 title screen
Screenshot of exploring a castle in Ultima 6

Tips for getting started

Some things that might be useful to know to make your first sojourn into this world more pleasant:

1. Play on Nuvie. Ultima VI ran on MS-DOS, which doesn’t exist on modern PCs, so when you download it from GOG or somewhere similar it will play in an emulator called DOSBOS.

However, there is a better solution, and that is to play Ultima VI through Nuvie, an engine for playing Ultima VI on modern systems. If you’re playing this classic CRPG in 2023, Nuvie will make your experience a lot smoother, without changing the game.

After these tips I’ll explain how to set up Nuvie, so skip to here if you’re ready to get started.

2. If you want your companions to help you in a scrape, switch to battle mode. Otherwise, they’ll just scratch their heads while you all get pelted with throwing axes. The keyboard shortcut is B. Sometimes they are shy about attacking, but you can fix that by changing their behaviour in their stats screen. Change to “Control” to manually command that character on their turns.

I put this one here because when you start the game you’re dropped straight into a battle.

3. Answer the copy protection questions. When that battle is over, your first instinct will probably be to talk to the king you just saved. That’s Lord British. But he’s not very welcoming, insisting that you take a quiz before he will say anything useful to you. This is Ultima VI’s piracy protection. The answers were contained in the manual that came with legitimate copies of the game. If you bought your copy from GOG, you can download this “Compendium” digitally, which you should do anyway because it’s a beautiful booklet and delves into the lore of the game. However, for the sake of getting past Lord British’s questions, just find the answers on Ultima Codex, the main Ultima Wiki, here: 

4. Find out what to do next by talking. You get information out of people by typing in keywords while talking to them. A good place to start is with the NPCs “name” and their “job”: this will usually lead to other key subjects, which will be highlighted in a different colour of text. This game will not make things easy for you if you aren’t listening to what people say and seeking more information by interrogating other people on the same subjects. Take notes, because the game won’t do that for you either. It’s pretty hands-off, in this regard and others.

On this topic, a good place to start your enquiries would be to ask Lord British about the orb you found in the game’s introduction. You’ll want to figure out how to use it to cut down on travel time in the game, but you might want to leave that until you understand the geography of the world a bit better.

Talking to Lord British about the Orb of Moons in Ultima 6

5. Controlling other characters and their inventories. The number keys switch control to other characters, also giving you access to their inventories, so you can carry more loot and keep it better organised. The avatar’s backpack will be full before you leave the castle, so knowing this immediately will save you some frustration. Press 0 to switch back to the default “party mode”. 

6. Embrace the old-school interaction method. Ultima VI doesn’t have a context-sensitive button that allows you to do everything from pick up items, to talk to somebody, to open chests, to read a sign. In fact, these actions are all separate buttons (or keystrokes): get, talk, use, and look. When you choose your action, you then target something with it. It’s a bit of a habit change, but when you get used to it you see some advantages, like how you can talk to everyone in a bar without leaving your seat. 

7. Learn these keyboard shortcuts. You can play this game entirely with the mouse but it’s quite a bit slower this way. I feel my clicking finger could get tired. Learning the keyboard shortcuts will make your adventure smoother. F1, F2 etc switch to the inventory of party members, and F10 brings up the full party screen with the time of day indicator. Crtl-1, Crtl-2 etc bring up stats screens. 

Setting up Nuvie

Nuvie adds, among other many other things:

  • An in-game settings menu for audio, visual and gameplay tweaks
  • Enhanced and modernised controls like drag-and-drop for items
  • More comfortable default key bindings and the ability to customise key bindings
  • Overhaul of save/load system
  • Convenience features like automatically using keys on doors becoming 
  • An option for a UI overhaul similar to the style of Ultima VII

Step 1: Download Nuvie

Download Nuvie from this page: 

Choose the official release binary for your operating system.

Step 2: Install Nuvie on your computer

Nuvie Setup program

Install Nuvie anywhere you will find convenient. You can install it directly into your Ultima VI game folder, but the official documentation suggests you install Nuvie somewhere else and copy your Ultima VI game files into the Nuvie folder, which we will do next. 

Step 3: Move Ultima 5 game files to the Nuvie folder

3.1 By default, Nuvie looks inside the Nuvie folder for a folder called ultima6, where it expects to find your Ultima VI game files. That folder doesn’t exist yet, so make it. Your Nuvie Folder should now look like this:

Make new ultima6 folder in Nuvie folder

3.2 Find your Ultima VI game files, wherever you installed the game. If you have installed via GOG Galaxy, you can find the game files with this option in your game library:

Finding Ultima 6 game files via GOG Galaxy

3.3 Copy all the game files…

Copying the Ultima 6 game files

3.4 …and paste them into the Nuvie ultima6 folder.

Step 4: Tweak the config file (if you want)

Some settings are changed by updating the text in nuvie.cfg, which is a file in your Nuvie installation folder. Most of the settings you will be interested in for playing Ultima are found in the <video> section (for general Nuvie display options) and in the <ultima6> section. 

The Nuvie config file in Notepad

Even if you don’t make changes now, keep these settings in mind in case you want them later. 

For more guidance on the config file, check the Nuvie documentation.

Step 5: Start playing Ultima VI

Welcome to Britannia!

Ultima 6 introduction screenshot
JRPG Collection

How to play Final Fantasy

Everything you need to know to choose what game to start with

So, Final Fantasy has caught your interest. Who can blame you: with Final Fantasy 14, the MMORPG, outperforming World of Warcraft, and the hype for the single-player action-RPG Final Fantasy 16 at a high, it’s natural you are curious about this storied franchise.

But Final Fantasy is a weird franchise. It’s big and complex and has been around forever. In that time it has developed its own set of conventions that fans understand but aren’t always intuitive to new players. 

In this article, we’re going to get you up to speed as painlessly as we can. We’re going to show you all the quirks that make this series special, then demystify them so you can pick your first Final Fantasy game and maybe fall in love with these games like we have. 

If you want to skip the background info and know which game you should play first and why, click here.

Why play Final Fantasy

For over 35 years, the Final Fantasy series has been leading videogames in fully realised fantasy worlds, beautiful music and cutting-edge visuals. It has memorable characters that have become icons, and stories that deliver twists and emotions in equal amounts. And because it recreates itself with almost every instalment, it is a series that is almost impossible to get bored of.

Who plays Final Fantasy?

It is impossible to know how many fans the series has worldwide, but it is probably tens of millions. Here are a few numbers for illustration: 

  • According to, Final Fantasy 14 has over 40 million players. 
  • Probably the best-selling game in the franchise is Final Fantasy 7, the original PS1 and PC versions selling over 10 million copies. 
  • For a more recent bestselling  game, Final Fantasy 15 also sold over 10 million copies
  • The r/FinalFantasy subreddit has 400k subscribers
  • The Square Enix YouTube channel has 300k followers.

Reasons for Final Fantasy’s popularity

Games in the Final Fantasy series have regularly been trailblazers for more complex stories and more advanced graphical fidelity in video games. It found worldwide appeal because it helped introduce Western console players to Japanese RPGs. 

The series is also known for its music and characters, which linger in people’s minds long after they have finished the game.

Moreover, as a long-running series that has released games consistently since 1987, this series has had a long time to build up a following. 

What you need to know

A series of standalone games

The first thing to understand about the Final Fantasy series is that all of the major numbered [jump link] games exist in their own universe, with different characters and unconnected stories.

There are direct sequels in the franchise, such as Final Fantasy 10-2 (a sequel to Final Fantasy 10), but other than these rare cases you can play any major games in the series without having played any others.  [optimse as answer tag]

Common elements of Final Fantasy

Or, How to spot Final Fantasy in the wild.

Though the games do not share stories or even worlds, there are themes, ideas, visuals and more that recur across the series and make a Final Fantasy feel like a Final Fantasy game. 

Chocobo from Final Fantasy 6 sprite

Chocobos: Bird-like mounts, most commonly yellow. Introduced in Final Fantasy 2. 

Moogle from Final Fantasy 9 artwork

Moogles: A race of cute magical creatures with pom-poms on their head that say “Kupo!” They fill various roles across the series. Introduced in Final Fantasy 3. 

Crystal from Final Fantasy 3 render

Crystals: Large magical crystals that play a role in the story, sometimes named after the four elements.

Bomb monster from Final Fantasy 5 sprite

Monsters: Bombs, tonberries, cactuars, malboros and behemoths are some of the more iconic recurring foes, though there are many more. 

Summons: Powerful creatures that can be called into battle, several of which appear in almost every game, including Shiva the ice queen, Ifrit the fire demon, and Bahamut the dragon. Introduced in Final Fantasy 3. 

Jobs/Classes: Combat roles like black mage, white mage, red mage, dragoon and thief have associated design elements across the series. Introduced in Final Fantasy.

Spells: Mages across the series have pulled from a common pool of spells with shared naming conventions, where suffixes like “-ara” and “-aga” indicate more powerful versions of spells (eg. Blizzard, Blizzara, Blizzaga in order of power)

Equipment: Weapons like Masamune and Ultima Weapon are found in multiple games.

Music tracks: Though the games do not generally share music, there are a few exceptions that appear in many games, such as the chocobo theme. In particular, Prelude (or Crystal Theme) and Final Fantasy (or Main Theme) are in many games in the series. 

The Roman numerals

Not everyone learns Roman numerals in school, and being a Star Wars fan will only take you up to IX = 9.  This method of numbering can make distinguishing the major Final Fantasy games a bit of a challenge for new fans. For clarity, in this article we’ve named the games with Arabic numbers, but here are all the titles in both formats:

Title (Roman Numerals)Title (Arabic Numerals)
Final FantasyFinal Fantasy 1
Final Fantasy IIFinal Fantasy 2
Final Fantasy IIIFinal Fantasy 3
Final Fantasy IVFinal Fantasy 4
Final Fantasy VFinal Fantasy 5
Final Fantasy VIFinal Fantasy 6
Final Fantasy VIIFinal Fantasy 7
Final Fantasy VIIIFinal Fantasy 8
Final Fantasy IXFinal Fantasy 9
Final Fantasy XFinal Fantasy 10
Final Fantasy XIFinal Fantasy 11
Final Fantasy XIIFinal Fantasy 12
Final Fantasy XIIIFinal Fantasy 13
Final Fantasy XIVFinal Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy XVFinal Fantasy 15
Final Fantasy XVIFinal Fantasy 16

Start with these games

We’re going to get into the weeds on this in a minute, and when you’ve read the next few sections you should feel more confident picking a first game for yourself, if you want. 

However, to give you the quick answers:

  • We think, for the average person, the best starting point is Final Fantasy 10. It is an extremely popular and accessible starting point, a gripping story, and hits the perfect balance of experimenting with the formula while being true to the series’ identity. 
  • In some ways, Final Fantasy 4 is where the series “became itself”, and features all of the hallmarks seen in the rest of the series. A great place to start if you want a historical perspective but don’t want to go all the way back to Final Fantasy 1 (which you might consider archaic). 
  • Final Fantasy 7 is the first 3D game, so a good place to start if you don’t want to play something 2D, and absolutely a historical landmark mark not only for the series, but for Japanese gaming in the West, JRPGs, and gaming as a whole. Don’t miss it. 
  • Final Fantasy 14 is an MMO, so is not the “standard” Final Fantasy experience, but it is extremely good. Plus, being an absolutely dominant force in the MMO market, it is probably the most popular introduction to the series these days. It also looks a lot more modern than the other starting points mentioned here.

A brief history of the series

The first eleven mainline games were all developed and published by Square.

Final Fantasy 1 to Final Fantasy 6 are 2D games released first on Nintendo hardware. 1-3 were originally released on the Famicom (NES), and 4-6 originally released on the Super Famicom (SNES).

Only Final Fantasy 1, 4 and 6 were released in the US, and 4 and 6 were renumbered as 2 and 3. So if you ever hear somebody refer to Final Fantasy 6 as Final Fantasy 3, this is the reason. It also means that Final Fantasy 2, 3, and 5 were not originally released in the West and so fewer older fans have the same connection with those games that they do for the others. 

After this, Square moved the franchise from Nintendo systems to Sony systems, partly as a result of the Playstation using disks over cartridges. 

Final Fantasy 7 to Final Fantasy 10 use 3D graphics and were released first on Playstation consoles. 7-9 were released originally on the PS1, and 10 on the PS2. 

Though many of the games in this era are beloved bestsellers, the most successful one up to this point was undoubtedly Final Fantasy 7, which was often held up as one of the best videogames, or one of the best videogame stories, ever made. 

Final Fantasy Tactics for the PS1 was the most significant spin-off released during this period. 

All of the mainline games up to this point were traditional, turn-based JRPGs. After Final Fantasy 10, each game mixed up the formula more than ever before.

Final Fantasy 11 was the first MMORPG of the series and was followed by many expansions. 

The first movie in the franchise, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, was released in 2001. Its inability to recoup its costs became a pivotal moment not only for the franchise but for Square as a company. 

Financial difficulties was one reason Square merged with Enix to create Square Enix.  Exix were the publisher of the Dragon Quest games, Final Fantasy’s main competitor in the JRPG market. 

In the years following the merger, some changes in the series can be identified. 

Starting with Final Fantasy 10-2, sequels and prequels to the stories of mainline games became a regular part of the franchise. Sub-series were made to expand the worlds of mainline games, including Compilation of Final Fantasy 7 (new games in the world of Final Fantasy 7) and Ivalice Alliance (new games in the world of Final Fantasy Tactics). New mainline games, starting with 13, were introduced as multi-game or multimedia projects, subseries in their own right. 

After 10, each mainline game would reinvent the formula, resulting in games that are more diverse than ever before, being separate not only in their story but also in their mechanics. Final Fantasy 12 removed battle screens and took inspiration from MMOs, whereas 13 brought back battle screens but entirely overhauled ATB and class systems from older games to make something unique. 

Final Fantasy 14 was a second MMO that was a critical and commercial failure but was relaunched as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn and became a massive success. 

Final Fantasy 15 was the first mainline game to feature action combat. This direction continued with Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy 16.

And that pretty much gets us up to date! 

But that only covers the mainline series. By our count, there are about 100 original Final Fantasy games. 

How many games?!

Yep, there are about 100 original Final Fantasy games! It depends on how you count them though. To get this number, we didn’t include ports, compilations or remasters, but did include spin-offs, remakes, and smaller games that are not full-scale JRPGs. [optimse as answer tag]

A few games are in a grey area, such as the Pixel Remasters, that look and play differently than the original games. However, we still choose not to include it in our count. We did include the remakes of Final Fantasy 1 and 2 for the Playstation compilation, as we considered them to have passed a threshold to be counted as new games, and full remakes such as Final Fantasy 3 for the DS and Final Fantasy 7: Remake are also considered by us to be new games. 

However you choose to count them, there are rather a lot of games in this series. Let’s try and make a little more sense of these. 

Mainline series

There are 15 mainline Final Fantasy games. When fans talk about the mainline series, they mean the games that count up in ascending order from the original game: Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy 2, Final Fantasy 3, and so on. The latest was Final Fantasy 15, which gives us 15 games. 

This excludes games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, which are considered spin-offs. More about them in a minute.

What makes mainline games special is that they introduce new worlds and characters, and tend to have the largest budgets (and sales) of any other Final Fantasy project of its time. They tend to be the games that push the series forward the most.

Eventually, direct sequels to the mainline games were produced, leading to games with titles such as “Final Fantasy 10-2”. These are also sometimes considered part of the mainline series, but not always. Take Dirge of Cerberus, a third-person shooter that continues the story of the mainline game, Final Fantasy 7. It has very different gameplay from the original game, so people are comfortable calling it a spin-off. We will list the sequels separately.

As you can see, it is down to some interpretation. But here’s a fairly typical list of which games are considered the “mainline Final Fantasy games”:

TitleRelease Date
Final Fantasy I1987 Dec
Final Fantasy II1988 Dec
Final Fantasy III1990 Apr
Final Fantasy IV1991 Nov
Final Fantasy V1992 Dec
Final Fantasy VI1994 Apr
Final Fantasy VII1997 Jan
Final Fantasy VIII1999 Feb
Final Fantasy IX2000 Jul
Final Fantasy X2001 Jul
Final Fantasy XI2002 May
Final Fantasy XII2006 Mar
Final Fantasy XIII2009 Dec
Final Fantasy XIV2010 Sep
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn2013 Aug
Final Fantasy XV2016 Nov
Final Fantasy VII2020 Apr
Final Fantasy XIV2021 Dec
Final Fantasy XVI2023 Aug

Sequels and prequels

The Final Fantasy franchise resisted sequels for a long time, choosing to create new worlds with new characters with each new game. This changed with Final Fantasy 10-2, which reused the assets of Final Fantasy 10 to tell a sequel to that story. 

Since then, stories that spin off from mainlines titles have become a common element of the franchise, and some games have even been announced as multiple-game series from the start. We have also included expansions to the MMO games.

TitleTypeRelease Date
Final Fantasy X-2Sequel2003 Mar
Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the ZilartExpansion2003 Apr
Final Fantasy XI: Chains of PromathiaExpansion2004 Sep
Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VIIPrequel2004 Sep
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VIIPrequel2006 Jan
Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht UrhganExpansion2006 Apr
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant WingsSequel2007 Apr
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VIIPrequel2007 Sep
Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the GoddessExpansion2007 Nov
Final Fantasy IV The After YearsSequel2008 Feb
Final Fantasy XIII-2Sequel2011 Dec
Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of AdoulinExpansion2013 Mar
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIISequel2013 Nov
Final Fantasy XIV: HeavenswardExpansion2015 Jun
Final Fantasy XIV: StormbloodExpansion2017 Jun
Final Fantasy XIV: ShadowbringersExpansion2019 Jul
Final Fantasy VII: The First SoldierPrequel2021 Nov
Final Fantasy XIV: EndwalkerExpansion2021 Dec


Final Fantasy games are regularly ported and remastered for new systems, but sometimes the franchise goes a step further with full remakes that substaintially change the visuals and mechanics.

TitlePlatformRelease Date
Final Fantasy IWonderSwan Color2000 Dec
Final Fantasy IIWonderSwan Color2001 May
Final Fantasy IIINintendo DS2006 Aug
Final Fantasy IVNintendo DS2007 Dec
Final Fantasy VII RemakePlayStation 42020 Apr
Final Fantasy VII: RebirthPlaystation 52023 Dec


There are a few groups of games that were given unique branding to distinguish them as their own sub-series. This extended beyond videogames, as these subseries also included films and short stories, such as the second movie in the franchise, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. 

  • Compilation of Final Fantasy 7
  • Ivalice Alliance
  • Fabula Nova Crystallis


All games with Final Fantasy in the title that are not considered mainline titles (subject to interpretation) are spin-offs. 

Some spin-offs become Final Fantasy sub-series, or even entirely new series without the Final Fantasy name.

The first spin-off was The Final Fantasy Adventure, which is also a great example of a spin-off that became a new series. It was known as Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden in Japan, but for the next game dropped the Final Fantasy moniker and became the Seiken Densetsu series, which in the West was called the Mana series. The first game using the Mana title was Seiken Densetsu 2, or Secret of Mana.

Another notable early spin-off was Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, which is best remembered as an attempt to make an RPG that was accessible to new players, but ended up disappointing Final Fantasy fans for being easy and shallow.  

Like Mystic Quest, most spin-offs keep the Final Fantasy branding, even if they become their own series. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, for example, was conceived as a Final Fantasy game with a co-op focus. It spawned sequels, each with its own subtitle, leading to games with long names like Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates.

The following tables is dedicated to spin-offs that feature original characters. For the spin-offs that focus on the heroes introduced in mainline games, look at the crossovers section below.

Here are the major Final Fantasy spin-offs:

NameRelease Date
Final Fantasy Adventure (Final Fantasy Gaiden)1991 Jun
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest1992 Oct
Final Fantasy Tactics1997 Jun
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance2003 Feb
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles2003 Aug
Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift2007 Jun
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates2007 Aug
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King2008 Mar
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time2009 Jan
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord2009 Jun
Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light2009 Oct
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers2009 Nov
Final Fantasy Dimensions2010 Sep
Final Fantasy Type-02011 Oct
Final Fantasy Tactics S2013 May
Final Fantasy Explorers2014 Dec
Mobius Final Fantasy2015 Jun
Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius2015 Oct
World of Final Fantasy2016 Oct
Final Fantasy Awakening2016 Dec
Final Fantasy Dimensions II2017 Nov
War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius2019 Nov
Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier2021 Nov
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin2022 Mar

Crossover Spinoffs

Perhaps inspired by the success of crossover games like Super Smash Bros, Square Enix created the fighting game Dissidia. It was the first time existing characters from mainline games had come together to share a story.

Since then, Final Fantasy crossover games have been released regularly. This category includes Theatrhythm, a series of rhythm games that use Final Fantasy music, as well as a number of gatcha games where players summon characters from across the franchise.

NameRelease Date
Dissidia Final Fantasy2008 Dec
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy2011 Mar
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy2012 Feb
Final Fantasy Artniks2012 Nov
Final Fantasy: All the Bravest2013 Jan
Pictlogica Final Fantasy2013 Oct
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call2014 Apr
Final Fantasy Record Keeper2014 Sep
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT2015 Nov
Dissidia Final Fantasy Omnia2018 Jan
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival2016 Sep
Theatrhythm Final Bar Line2023 Feb

Spinoff Series

As you can see, some spin-offs have sequels and become their own subseries. Here are the major spin-off series along with the number of titles that have been released in those

SeriesNumbers of Games
Crystal Chronicles6
Brave Exvius2

Which are the best Final Fantasy games?

That’s an excellent question, and a really tricky one. Every game is somebody’s favourite. Plus, different games rise and fall in popularity over time. But we’re here to give answers. If there were only 10 gold stars to give out to games in this franchise, we might suggest a list that looks like this:

  • Final Fantasy 4
  • Final Fantasy 5
  • Final Fantasy 6
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Final Fantasy 7
  • Final Fantasy 8
  • Final Fantasy 9
  • Final Fantasy 10
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7
  • Final Fantasy 14

With this list, we are trying to distil the impossible-to-measure “common feeling” about the game among fans, based on informal conversions in fan communities as well as public surveys. You might say we are trying to emulate a popularity contest.

“The classics” have a lot of weight in this sort of list. Though Final Fantasy 4 and 5 are both important and beloved, a new player might find them less compelling than more modern games in the series.

Nonetheless, this list gives a great selection of games to play if you want to understand what the franchise is about and what makes it great. It tells you what the best the franchise has had to offer over time. 

This does not mean that the games not on this list can’t be excellent, nor that playing a game on the list is a guarantee of a good time.

And the best-selling ones?

It’s impossible to give exact sales numbers, but here are the current estimates as calculated by VGChartz:

GameSales (VGChartz)
Final Fantasy 1020.8 M
Final Fantasy 714.1 M
Final Fantasy 1510 M
Final Fantasy 89.6 M
Final Fantasy 137.71 M
Final Fantasy 127.71 M
Final Fantasy 95.83 M
Final Fantasy 7 Remake5 M
Final Fantasy 33.86 M
Final Fantasy 63.81 M

Notes: Final Fantasy 10 includes the sales of the Final Fantasy 10|10-2 collection.

In addition to these sales numbers, some estimates put the number of active Final Fantasy 14 players at 40 million+, which would almost certainly put it at the top of this list. Square Enix has confirmed that 14 is the most profitable game in the series.

Final Fantasy genres

Final Fantasy games have featured a range of combat mechanics and game structures, starting as semi-linear adventures with strict turn-based combat. Soon, a real-time element was introduced into the battles. As the series got more experimental, the game structure varied from highly linear to open-world, and the battles were more strategic in some games, and full-on action in others.

The mainline series changed slowly, whereas spinoffs turned Final Fantasy into everything from an RTS to a multiplayer fighting game.

Here are the mainline games and a selection of the spinoffs along with their battle mechanics, which are explained in more detail below:

TitleBattle System
Final Fantasy ITurn-based
Final Fantasy IITurn-based
Final Fantasy IIITurn-based
Final Fantasy IVActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy VActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy VIActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy VIIActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy TacticsTurn-based strategy
Final Fantasy VIIIActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy IXActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy XTurn-based
Final Fantasy XICooldown-based
Final Fantasy X-2Active menu-driven
Final Fantasy Crystal ChroniclesAction
Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VIIThird-person shooter
Final Fantasy XIIActive menu-driven (in-field)
Final Fantasy XII: Revenant WingsReal-time strategy
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of FatesAction
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VIIAction/menu-driven hybrid
Final Fantasy IV: The After YearsActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a KingCity-building
Dissidia: Final FantasyFighting game
Final Fantasy XIIIActive menu-driven
Final Fantasy XIVCooldown-based
Final Fantasy Type-0Action
Final Fantasy XIII-2Active menu-driven
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIIIAction/menu-driven hybrid
Final Fantasy XVAction

The Turn-Based Final Fantasy Games

In the early Final Fantasy, combat took place in turns. You choose your actions (physical attacks, spells and item usage) from a menu, your character performed that action, then the your opponent, usually a monster, would have their opportunity to fight back while your characters stood still.    

Turn-based is closely related to the “ATB” games.

The Action-Time Battle (ATB) Final Fantasy Games

One way to describe ATB is a menu-based battle system with cooldowns for each character and enemy after they act. “Real-time turn-based” also gives the right idea. 

In practice, it looks and feels very similar to turn-based, but enemies will still get their turns and attack while you are choosing your commands. It was introduced in Final Fantasy 4 and was used in all mainline Final Fantasy games until Final Fantasy 10. Many spin-off games also used this system. 

The Action Final Fantasy Games

The series added real-time elements early on but has only made the jump to full-on action gameplay on occasion. It is becoming more common, though, and now multiple games in the mainline series have thrown away the menu-based battles and have combat in the style of an action game. This has caused consternation for long-term series fans.

The MMO Final Fantasy Games

The two Final Fantasy MMOs are mainline, numbered Final Fantasy games: Final Fantasy 11 and Final Fantasy 14. As well as fitting into the “mainline” bucket, they also deserve to be discussed in their own category. 

What makes these games different is that you explore a world that is filled with thousands of other players across the world, and you can join up with those players in multiplayer parties to take on the game’s challenges. Both of these MMOs require their own subscription. They each have multiple expansions, which add up to huge amounts of content that will take much longer to play through than any other single game in the series. 

We already mentioned the sub-series and the Final Fantasy Adventure/Mana games which turned into their own series. Here are more games that are not part of Final Fantasy but do have connections.

  • Kingdom Hearts has Final Fantasy characters as NPCs and even bosses. 
  • Chrono Trigger is not part of the Final Fantasy series but was made by Square. It is common to hear people joke that Chrono Trigger is their favourite Final Fantasy game. 


Phew! If you’ve read this far, you’ve seen that the Final Fantasy series is big and multifaceted, but you’ve also learned that there is a core of mainline games that push the series forward as well as the vast number of spin-offs that take the series in other directions. 

You have a better understanding of each of the games in context, and you won’t be completely in the dark when people are talking about XIV this and VII that, because you have the context. 

The context isn’t everything though, and the way to learn more is to start playing. Good luck and have fun!